Crazy Noises: The Joy of Sect

The Joy of Sect5

“Church cult, cult church, so we get bored someplace else every Sunday.  Does this really change our day to day lives?” – Bart Simpson

There’s no new Zombie Simpsons until September at the earliest (October? fingers crossed!), so we’re going to spend the summer overthinking Season 9.  Why Season 9?  Because we did Season 8 last summer, and Season 9 was when the show started becoming more Zombie than Simpsons.  Since we’re too lazy to do audio and too ugly to do video, we’ve booked a “chatroom” (ours is right between the one with the sexy seventh graders and the one with the bored federal agents pretending to be sexy seventh graders).  So log on to your dial-up AOL and join us.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “nonchalantly”).

Today’s episode is 913 “The Joy of Sect”, tomorrow’s will be 924 “Lost our Lisa”.

Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we begin with the thinly veiled Scientologists or the most boring museum trip ever?

Mad Jon: Scientologists.

Charlie Sweatpants: Very well.

  This episode is not without its flaws, but on the whole it’s pretty good.

Mad Jon: I find it pretty boring

Dave: It’s the better of the two, but falls into the whole Season 9 meh for me.

Mad Jon: There are a few good jokes, a couple of funny insights, but it was a shitty version of "Homer’s Enemy" in my book.

Charlie Sweatpants: How is this like Homer’s Enemy?

Mad Jon: Ok.

In Homer’s Enemy, Homer walks around being Proto-Zombie Homer, while another agency tries to reconcile the situation with their own deal. All the while he is beat up or almost drinks acid, and the rest of the town or power plant goes on with life sometimes nonchalantly recognizing Homer’s idiocy.

  Just like in this episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t see it. This is the original "jerkass" episode, you’re right – and that sucks. But on the whole I’d liken it more to the "destination" episodes, a la City of New York vs. Homer Simpson. In this case the "destination" isn’t so much a place as it is cults, but it’s basically them finding a way to get the family into a certain situation so that they can then make fun of a subject they haven’t touched on before.

Mad Jon: But I guess we will have to disagree on this point. This was just an episode to showcase Homer’s burgeoning invincibility, and everyone had to go along for the ride. There was more involvement from the family in this one as opposed to Homer’s Enemy, but he was still completely the centerpiece.

  But that’s just like, my opinion man.

Charlie Sweatpants: When they beat Homer with bats, it sucks. But the recruitment scenes at the retreat don’t bother me as much. There’s some Jerkass Homer there, but I like the movie scene (how no one can leave), I like the circle of shame (or whatever) for Homer’s joke when he raises his hand, and I like the gruel scene because Batman.

They also get a lot more of the supporting characters beyond the family involved. Burns and Smithers have a good set piece, Brockman has a couple of funny bits, and this is a Lovejoy episode for the ages.

  I mean, he’s about to burn down his own church!

Mad Jon: I am glad you garnered some enjoyment from this episode. Before this afternoon I was thinking to myself. "Self, you’ve only watched this episode like twice. What’s the deal?" Then I watched it. And I was bored and cringed a lot. I laughed at some jokes – this isn’t a terrible episode. I especially like the reverend in this one.

And Flanders is classic as well. He offered the Cult’s Lawyers beer after they broke into his rumpus room.

Charlie Sweatpants: Stop calling it that!

Dave: Well, let me chime in quickly – all those bits you mentioned, Charlie: they’re funny, but I’m with Jon in that they somehow don’t come together and I’m reluctant to give this episode anything more than a pass.

Mad Jon: Also the line when the Christian in the airport is pitching his religion is great.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like I said at the beginning, it’s got some problems. Marge’s getaway scene from the camp is a lowlight, but even that doesn’t drag overly long.

(And the evil "The Prisoner" bubble makes a small cameo. It’s not nearly as bad this time as it is three seasons from now when it’s almost the entire end of an episode.)

Mad Jon: I agree, the crap was shorter crap than it will be in a few seasons. But that’s a pretty thin blanket to keep you warm.

Also I liked "the prisoner" bubble. That was a classic-type Simpsons joke.

Charlie Sweatpants: I stand by my "destination" episode comparison. I like this better than the New York one, for instance. Both have a main plot that’s a little heavy on Jerkass Homer, but this one has more going on outside of that.

Dave: New York’s better in my book, and the presence of stuff does not a better episode make.

Charlie Sweatpants: Even the airport scene at the beginning is okay. The bookstore clerk saying "Get Out" when Moleman asks for anything by Robert Ludlum is funny.

Mad Jon: I actually think this episode started pretty well. It just leaped off a small cliff around 5 minutes in.

  Nobody died, maybe a twisted ankle and some bruised pride, but a small cliff nonetheless.

Dave: I do chuckle every time I see that plane go down.

Charlie Sweatpants: There’s also a lot of good crosstalk in this episode, where there’s thing in the background like Lisa’s "twice as much" about loving hoverbikes and Homer’s "why" when he can’t be knocked out (the only good part of that sequence).

Mad Jon: I did catch that, and I did laugh at that.

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess the reason I give this episode a pass is that while it does have some Jerkass Homer moments, it’s also not drowning in filler. It’s clear that they have a lot of ideas to cram in, and most of them are good.

Mad Jon: Maybe I’m just too low-brow for this type of humor. There are some good jokes, and I always love a good cult, but I guess the finer points must have just been lost on me.

Charlie Sweatpants: Fair enough.

Mad Jon: Call me a traditionalist, but I want to see Homer wallow in his own depression with work and family and a few well wishing neighbors, not stopping a con-man from stealing the town’s money because someone reminded him about beer.

Charlie Sweatpants: But the beer thing did make sense, didn’t it?

Mad Jon: Probably not the way you think it did. I don’t see the deep meaning behind it.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was the same with the kids, maybe Bart goes down a little easy, but I love the fact that they co-opt Lisa with her need for approval.

Mad Jon: Well I understand that much

Charlie Sweatpants: The way they got into things wasn’t that bizarre, is my point.

Mad Jon: Fair enough.

Charlie Sweatpants: Certainly not compared to what we’ve seen in subsequent seasons.

  Anything else here? There are a few other good things (lawyers, "dustier than thou") and bad things (the ending is a little too long) I could point out, but I think we’re kinda done.

3 Responses to “Crazy Noises: The Joy of Sect”

  1. 1 D.N.
    7 July 2010 at 5:37 am

    I’m actually quite fond of this episode (and was subsequently unable to take the not-bad movie “Ticket to Heaven” movie seriously because of it). Strangely enough, the lines I tend to quote the most aren’t from any of the regular characters (many of whom are showcased well), but from two one-off Hank Azaria characters, the lead Movementarian Stooge (“Outsiders have kidnapped some of our property!” and “He’s our husband now!”) and the Leader (“Err…Do you happen to need a Messiah?” and “I should have stayed with the Promise Keepers!”).

  2. 2 Izzy
    27 September 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Yeah, I love this episode as well. The “noodle armed choir boy” and “Mr. Kilt” lines make me smile just thinking about them. A lot of people say this is the beginning of “Jerk Ass” Homer, but apart from him using the phrase, he actually seems pretty in character. He doesn’t even get offended when everyone points out all his flaws.

    Look guys, we know the show was starting to go down hill at this point, but you don’t need to try to find fault with every season nine episode just to prove your point. They were still turning out some excellent episodes at this point, and “The Joy of Sect” is a prime example.

  3. 3 CaptainWacky
    16 June 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Great episode!

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